Domestic Violence Leave Laws

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What Is Domestic Violence Leave?

Some states have laws that require employers to give reasonable leave for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking. What constitutes a “reasonable” amount of time for leave depends on the individual case, but it is usually for the purpose of assisting law enforcement, seeking legal help, medical treatment, and counseling.

Usually, domestic violence leave does not have to be paid, though an employer may choose to provide paid leave. Some states allow employees to use any of their paid leave (accrued sick or vacation leave) for this purpose. Other states require employees to use all of their paid leave for this purpose before being entitled to additional unpaid domestic violence leave.

Which States Permit Domestic Violence Leave?

So far, only a minority of states require employees to give leave for domestic violence. However, they include 3 of the 5 largest states in the country: California, Florida, and Illinois. Other jurisdictions, including Washington and the District of Columbia, have similar laws.

Most states require that employees give their employers reasonable notice that they will need to take domestic violence leave. However, those states also recognize that there may be emergency situations where notice is not possible. In such cases, employees are sometimes required to provide proof after the fact that they took leave for reasons related to domestic violence.

Can a Lawyer Help Me Obtain Domestic Violence Leave?

Any type of leave that is protected by law must be given by an employer to an employee that qualifies for that leave, but some employers may not be aware of your right to have domestic violence leave and may deny your request for such leave. An employment lawyer will be able to help you assert your rights in relation to domestic violence leave if a request for domestic violence leave is wrongfully denied.  Also, if your employer sues you for breaching you employment contract by taking the leave that you are entitled to, a lawyer will be able to defend you against that claim in court.

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Last Modified: 06-17-2014 10:05 AM PDT

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